I Don’t Choose The Subject or Characters, They Choose Me — Kiran Manral

‘It was like looking at herself through a time machine, seeing herself as she had been over a decade ago. She had seen those eyes before. She saw them every day in the mirror—wide, light brown, fringed with thick lashes that curled upwards. She had not been the only one to inherit her father’s eyes. The ghost of her father’s indiscretions had just caught up with her, now standing at her doorstep, waiting to be invited in to tea and sandwiches.’

—Kiran Manral, Missing, Presumed Dead

Kiran Manral is an award winning Indian author, TEDx Speaker, columnist, mentor and feminist. She has written books across genres in both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include The Reluctant Detective, Once Upon A Crush, All Aboard, Karmic Kids, A Boy’s Guide to Growing Up, The Face at the Window and Saving Maya. Her latest book Missing Presumed Dead, a psychological thriller, has released in July 2018.

From Romance to Thriller 




Missing, Presumed Dead is Kiran’s first thriller novel. She has written three romances before, so, naturally, romance is her comfort zone and she enjoys writing love stories, however, surprisingly, she doesn’t enjoy reading romance. ‘I am a romantic at heart, and I think the happy escapism of romance is something I enjoy,’ she says. ‘But as a writer, the crafting and the plotting of a thriller is definitely much more challenging and satisfying creatively.’ She adds.

On Choosing the Subject and Characters 

If you have read Kiran Manral’s books, you must have noticed that her characters and background are totally different from each other. ‘I seriously believe I don’t choose the subject or the characters, they choose me. For me a story begins when a character pops into my head fully formed, and the story then builds up around that particular character. For The Face at the Window it was Mrs McNally who came into my head and made me write her story down,’ she says.

Talking about the character Aisha from Missing, Presumed Dead, Kiran says, ‘One fine day, Aisha came into my head, alone, cloistered in a home in a remote part of the mountains, with emotional and mental issues, being gaslighted by her husband, completely isolated and vulnerable. What would happen to someone like her, I wondered? That became the start of the story.’

Missing Presumed Dead deals with dysfunctional relationships and mental instability. People are sensitive about depression or mental illness. So writing about such characters requires sensitivity. ‘The only thing I do insist from myself when I do write characters in life situations I am completely unfamiliar with is to research. I believe in researching out everything relevant to the characters to the last minute detail.’

On Writing a Psychological Thriller 

Every genre has its own essential elements. So, what about a Psychological Thriller?  ‘It should play tricks with your mind,’ Kiran says. ‘That’s the only one I really believe in. All the rest are negotiable. When you read it or watch it, you shouldn’t know what to believe because whatever you believe to be true a little while ago gets proved as untrue a little while later. There is nothing solid for the reader to grab onto, it’s a just a slippery, slithery pool they should slip into.’

Going With The Flow 

One of the most striking things about writers (or artists) is that they have their own distinct voice and pattern. They may work on a similar thing, but their approach is different. Kiran Manral does not believe in plotting everything, she likes to go with the flow.

‘I think when you have plotted down to the last minutest details that might actually kill the thrill for the writer. I like to leave things a little open ended for both me as the writer and for the reader too,’ she says. ‘If you are really invested in the character and the story, you will always want to know more, and that leads you to chase the plot, which is much more fun that writing the plot down and then fill in the blanks chapter building.’

What Ruins a Story? 

There are many components that make a story a good, gripping story. But what ruins a story? To which Kiran asnwers, ‘I think the only thing that ruins a story is a lack of connect between the characters and a reader. If your reader is not invested in what happens to your characters, they will not be invested in reading the book to the very end.’

I couldn’t agree more!

Promoting The books is a Tough Task 

Writing a book is tough, of course, but to be honest, writing a book is not just about finishing a manuscript. There are other challenges if you want to be a published writer like getting a suitable publisher Or promoting your book.

So, what’s the most difficult task for Kiran? Promoting her books! ‘I am naturally a very introverted person, and to put myself out there drains me completely. Also to keep talking about my book demanded I overcome a great deal of natural hesitancy.’ She shares.

I find launches nothing more than an ego boost,’ Kiran says.

She has even stopped doing launches for the past many books. Over the years, she has cut down on the events like literature festivals, talks, panels, workshops etc. ‘I am better and happier when I’m not out there. I would rather use that time and energy to focus on my writing.’ She admits, honestly.

Newbies, Listen Up! 

‘Don’t be in a hurry to have your first book published. Make sure you write the best book you possibly could have written.’ Kiran Manral advices. ‘Do your homework, your research. Invest time, effort and craft into your work. It isn’t about just telling a story. Writing a book is about building characters, developing plot arcs, creating conflict, either internal or external.’

She feels disappointed to see some books that are just flat narration. ‘Build atmosphere. Think of all your five senses, sound, touch, light, taste, smell. Incorporate them into your story telling. Read books that teach you about the craft of writing. I recommend Stephen King’s On Writing. Read writers you admire for their style, read writers you don’t to know what you shouldn’t do.’ Kiran shares her ideas to grow as a writer.

She strongly believes that your reading must be million times more than your writing. ‘For every page you write, there should be thousands of pages you’ve read,’ she expresses beautifully!

Author(s): Kiran Manral
Publisher: Amaryllis
Release: July 2018
Genre: Fiction/Thriller
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Tarang Sinha is a freelance writer & author of 'We Will Meet Again'. Her works have been published in magazines like Good Housekeeping India, Child India, New Woman, Woman's Era, Alive, and a best-selling anthology @ Uff Ye Emotions 2.

One thought on “I Don’t Choose The Subject or Characters, They Choose Me — Kiran Manral

  1. If you want to choose any person of a particular profession or subject, you must have to know about those thoroughly. Shankar, the eminent Bengali literateur dexterously demonstrated how to do it. Whenever he would choose a profession or subject, it seemed, he was intensely related to that.

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